Catholicism is losing its grip in Latin America as the percentage of people who say they identify as evangelical has grown, data shows.
Why it matters: The Catholic Church has historically influenced Latin American laws and politics. Its decline is starting to impact some countries’ policies, even as other faiths grow.
For example, several countries have recently decriminalized abortion, recognized gay marriage and pushed for transgender rights.
By the numbers: Overall, the number of Latin Americans who said they don’t have a religion jumped by six percentage points from 2010 to 2020, according to the most recent Latinobarómetro, the premier regional annual survey.
The percentage of people who identify as Catholic dropped from 70% in 2010 to 57% in 2020, Latinobarómetro found.
Zoom in: Evangelical faiths have grown. In Brazil, the number of survey respondents who identified as evangelical went from 3% in 2000 to 18% in 2010 and 22% in 2020, the study shows. In Guatemala, those figures went from 19% to 34% to 41%.
A growing Evangelical caucus recently tried to pass measures fully banning same sex marriage and making abortion carry up to 10 years jail time. The law was scrapped after the president said he wouldn’t sign.
Between the lines: The shift in religious beliefs is partly because young people have more faiths to choose from, religious studies professor Andrew Chesnut of Virginia Commonwealth University said yesterday at a conference in Mexico City.
He added that Protestant and other Christian faiths have strengthened outreach, as have alternate forms of spiritualism, such as New Age movements that incorporate Mesoamerican traditions.